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WASHINGTON– Cooperation is growing between navies and commercial shipping interests in many nations, a Navy official said Thursday.

“Industries, navies and nations are in agreement that we need to have this understanding not only just for security reasons, but also for safety to avoid collisions at sea and to ensure legitimate practices,” Navy Rear Adm. M. Stewart O’Bryan, director of Navy’s maritime domain awareness, said during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable.

O’Bryan spoke with bloggers from Rhode Island, where he was attending the 19th Annual Seapower Symposium hosted by the chief of naval operations and the U.S. Naval War College. More than 100 nations were represented at the conference, he said.

The motivation to work together was strong, O’Bryan said, due to the complexity of maritime issues and budget limitations.

“While these organizations perform their assigned missions well, no organization has enough resources, whether money, people or equipment, to do it all by themselves,” he said.

O’Bryan pointed out that there is much to be gained when nations share maritime data, including improved situation awareness, increased trust and cooperation, and expedited commerce. In the long run, he said, multinational collaboration between navies and coast guards will lead to enhanced security that will contribute to global prosperity.

Another benefit, he added, is that best practices and lessons learned can be shared. Recent dialogue between navies already has paid off in several cases.

“Piracy levels have decreased in the Straits of Malacca [in Indonesia] because of this kind of sharing of information and security that provides the ships’ safe and free navigation across choke points, [and also] we’ve seen recent improvements in the Gulf of Aden.”

O’Bryan said U.S. efforts to boost the maritime domain awareness strategy include recent work to consolidate U.S. maritime operations centers and to link them together. Today, the network of eight centers located around the world operates on a combined network and work continues to integrate their capabilities and grant them access to the same data sources. Another project will integrate naval installation regional operations centers with maritime operations centers.

The maritime domain awareness effort also is engaged in dialogue with the U.S. Coast Guard to facilitate its homeland defense mission, he said.

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